I’ve been told that people who work in Head Offices of large companies have no idea what really goes on “on the front line”. That is certainly not the case at TUI. Jill Carter, Head of Sales, who came from a retail background herself, organises a Back to the Floor day every year to allow the hundreds of Head Office based employees to venture out into the world of retail, see first-hand the excellent work some of our customer facing colleagues carry out, and (for the more adventurous) attempt them ourselves!
Since Back to the Floor clashed with the grads’ annual leave this year (and we were all in France enjoying the snow and house music which Val Thorens had to offer), Jill ever so kindly organised alternative dates for us. In the end I spent a day in our Harpenden store.
With 7am being the earliest rise I had experienced on a Saturday for quite some time, I enjoyed a coffee-heavy breakfast and made my way to the store. I was greeted by Sam, the store manager, and introduced to Charlotte, the assistant manager, and Chris, the cruise expert. When I was told that Linda, who also worked there, was off, I assumed that I had chosen a rather quiet Saturday to visit. How wrong I was! After the introductory tasks of hoovering the store and making tea, I was promoted to the floor (mainly because Linda’s absence meant that there was a spare desk and one less person to help customers). I spent the entire day on my feet, greeting customers and welcoming them into the store, helping customers pay the balance of their holidays (which made me slightly nervous!), chatting about holidays, and making small-talk to keep them entertained until someone else, who knew how to work the various systems, was available.
The next thing I knew it was 5 o’clock, almost time to close the store, and I hadn’t even had a lunch break or a cup of tea myself! We had had such a busy, successful day (and for me, the fact that I had had the chance to add some value by finding a customer who wanted to book a weekend trip to Barcelona – my area of expertise!)
I think it is safe to say that a job in retail cannot be learnt overnight! I was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was great to see the way the guys in Harpenden remembered customers’ names, were so passionate about what they were doing, and were just generally great people to be around. It is proven to be so invaluable that even our Managing Director, David Burling (featured in the picture below) does a Back to the Floor day every year!
It was a great experience and I look forward to my next one. I might even do some studying of our destinations and brands before then, so that I’m not so thrown off the next time someone asks me about nightlife in Malta!
Lynsey Burns (UK&I Commercial Graduate)